Nietzsche had travelled to many different places on this continent. He experienced many wars. After becoming a great sorcerer, he coldly observed quite a lot of wars and secretly and elaborately gathered the statistics on the casualties, in which he found an anomaly that he had never noticed.
The death rate of the first-level warriors in the long-lasting fights was a little high. It was lower than that of the common warriors but significantly higher than that of the second-level and third-level warriors, which was disproportionate to the amount of power they had. For instance, in a war that had involved tens of thousands of people, the total death rate of the common warriors on both sides was thirty-five percents, and the death rate of the first-level warriors was twenty-two percent. Meanwhile, the death rate of the second-level warriors was seven percent and that of the third-level warriors was five percent.
There was obviously something unusual. As practitioners of the same stage, the first-level warriors did not have an enormous difference in strength and skills compared to second-level warriors. Why was there such a great gap between the death rates? Crazy’Ole had been hunting for battlefields in the following years like a maniac. He learned a detail in his many observations: many well-skilled first-level warriors tended to get ‘sick’ during long-lasting battles and suffered a lot from pain. Many even suffered from their previously recovered wounds again. This phenomenon was easy to overlook on the battlefield. If the patients had a strong will and an outstanding body, then they would probably survive. And most of those who survived would luckily become second-level warriors.
He followed the tracks and did more research. He found that second-level warriors always suffered some kind of physical discomfort before they ascended to the second level. People thought that was normal during training since a commoner’s body could not coordinate with the explosive strength and hence needed a great effort to overcome the pain and fatigue so as to achieve the next level.
This opinion was not far from the truth. However, Crazy’Ole thought more and found the law behind it. It was simply a test that every body arts practitioner had to face. During the test, all potential flaws inside one’s body broke out as pain and discomfort. Those who did not have a robust body would not pass it. If it happened on the battlefield, it could even prove to be fatal.
The first-level warriors fought on the front lines most of the time. They were not noblemen but merely commoners who had learned the body arts by chance and were therefore enlisted. They had to appear in the fiercest of fights, longing for military exploits to promote their rank. So, a higher death rate did not draw that much attention.
Crazy’Ole called this test the ‘body purification’. Since there were similar tests in learning magic, he reckoned that there must be some similarities between the two. He had taught all these to Bair. According to the research results Bair had provided, he helped Amon awaken the power of two sides and finally confirmed his theories in this boy.
Hearing Crazy’Ole’s story, Amon understood what had happened to him. He did not worry about himself any more. He was lucky since he did not have to pass this test on the battlefield. Crazy’Ole continued to tell him, “You were supposed to pass this test before the disaster. I was worried about whether you could pass it in time. Now that you have achieved the next step, I don’t have to worry anymore.”
Amon couldn’t help but ask, “What is this disaster you mention? Isn’t Maqi’s death a disaster?” A lifelong neighbour being killed in front of his eyes, causing such a tempest in the town and setting his family in pain and misery, Amon had considered it as a huge disaster in his life.
“It’s not the time for you to know it yet. You are facing another disaster. You’ll soon have to leave Duc.”
“Leave? That is not allowed! Also, I am not a great sorcerer yet!… And what about my father?”
Crazy’Ole sighed, “You don’t have to worry about him, it’s useless to worry. Everyone has his fate, you have yours too. In fact, the moment you extracted the Gods’ Tear and that Judah Fayol claimed that you gave it to Isis, you’ve been destined to receive punishment from the kingdom.”
“Punishment from the… kingdom?”
“Dusti and Shog are playing innocent so that they won’t bear the responsibility. You’ve given the Gods’ Tear to Isis all by yourself!… Now that Maria has reached the Isis Shrine and become the Adoratrice, information about how she got it in Duc must have been spread.”
“The kingdom of Hittite cannot protest openly and ask for the Gods’ Tear, but the discontent won’t just disappear. A miner discovered Gods’ Tear and gave it to the shrine of Ejypt instead of handing it over to the kingdom. This is a serious crime. How can the kingdom prevent similar smugglings from happening? They can’t punish Rod Drick, so they can only pick you!”
Amon frowned, “How will they punish me?”
“They will charge you with some irrelevant crime, for example, violating some laws or oracles. You will be beheaded as a warning to the others! It’s as evident as a fly on a bald head.”
Amon gasped, “Beheaded! When?”
“The message was probably sent even before Rod Drick left. But they would wait until the Adoratrice’s accession. Then they would send a commissioner to Duc. It should have taken them a bit more than two months. There is not much time left!… But don’t worry. You won’t be beheaded. I have some old friends here. I will make some arrangements for you to leave in advance. Now, you should get yourself ready for a long journey. Remember, don’t tell anybody!”
Amon was bewildered, “Am I leaving Duc now? Leaving my dad and you…” He had never been away from his family for long. Suddenly hearing that he had to leave, he did not know what to do.
Crazy’Ole gave him an encouraging pat on his shoulder, “You have to grow up one day, my boy. I’ve taught you too much for a clerk in Duc. The world outside is large. Don’t forget your promise to me, solve the secret of the gods… Don’t concern yourself too much with the things here. I will arrange everything. You can come back when things have passed.”
“I can come back? Ah, that’s better. But I —”
“But you still have too many things to learn? I will record all my knowledge and give them to you. So the rest is upon you. I hope that one day you can not only discover the secret of the gods but also affirm and go through the path yourself. I don’t want to misguide you. I have been on the wrong path since the beginning, and even if I could achieve the ninth level, there would be no way ahead. Now, I am going to give you three dos and don’ts. Please remember them well and don’t ask me why.”
Amon was startled, but he still agreed, “Please tell me. I will keep them well in mind.”
The three dos and don’ts from Crazy’Ole were very special —
First, no matter how strong Amon would be in the future, he should not kill any person by his own hand. It was not that he shouldn’t kill anybody, but he should try his best not to kill him directly. There was a big difference between the two. If he had to hurt any living thing, he should try his best to do it with minimal strength and will.
Second, no matter what disaster he might go through, he should try his best not to let the others hate him. If hatred was inevitable, then let more people be grateful to him, or adore him from the bottom of their hearts.
Third, if in certain circumstances, the first two points confused him, or they went against his belief, or he was facing a choice of life and death, such that he had to kill or to let others hate him, then he should just forget the first two as if they had never existed.
These three dos and don’ts were not hard to remember but were difficult for Amon to understand. Amon blinked and thought about it for a long time. Since Crazy’Ole did not want him to ask why, he asked another question, “You asked me not to kill a person directly, so why have you killed Maqi by your own hands with such a powerful magic?”
Crazy’Ole sighed. There was only deep resignation in his expression. “Those are what I want you to do. For me, it doesn’t matter anymore… My child, do you feel that these three dos and don’ts are familiar?”
“No. It’s the first time I’ve heard them. I can’t think of anything similar.”
“It’s the first time I have told them to someone else. Bair mentioned them in his last message, but he did not explain why. Amon, give me your rod. I’ve something to work on it.”
Crazy’Ole avoided the topic. The ‘rod’ was, of course, Amon’s fine iron stick. Amon gave it to Crazy’Ole. When he replayed today’s conversation in his home, his thoughts circled darkly around the coming disaster, but he had a slight curiosity at the same time.
He started to prepare for the journey quietly. There wasn’t much to prepare since he did not even know where he would be going. He thought more about what his drunkard father would do after he left. He had to take the Aquaticore with him so he would leave the other twenty parangons for his father. That would be enough for him for the next few years. Crazy’Ole promised him that he would take care of his family, so he did not need to worry too much since he would come back one day.
The three dos and don’ts that Crazy’Ole had told him were first mentioned in the last message from Bair. But Crazy’Ole did not tell him about them when he told him about Bair’s message for the first time. So Crazy’Ole wasn’t telling Amon everything. What else was he keeping from Amon?
Several days passed and Amon recovered from the ‘illness’. All pain and discomfort disappeared naturally. One night, Amon sat in his house and felt that every one of his muscles and pores were healthy and every breath was thoroughly strong. That was the body that really belonged to he himself, with which he could freely use the awakened power.
He had passed the ‘body purification’ test, so he now was a second-level warrior. According to Crazy’Ole, Amon should now turn back to practising magic. Amon was planning to go to the Charcoal Forest, so he decided to drop in Crazy’Ole’s house to tell him the news and to hear his opinions about the practice of magic.
When he came close to the entrance to Crazy’Ole’s courtyard, he found something unusual. There seemed to be an invisible wall in front of the door, preventing him from going in. A voice rose right beside Amon’s ears when Amon tried to push this ‘wall’. “Mister Nietzsche, is this boy outside the door the one you were talking about?”
The voice came from an old man. He was not from the town. Amon immediately heard Crazy’Ole’s voice rise right beside his ears, “Yes, Golier. He’s Amon.”
So there’s a guest called Golier in Crazy’Ole’s house. Amon had never heard of this name. The voices disappeared after those two phrases, and the wall was still there. Evidently, Crazy’Ole and Golier were having a conversation that they did not want Amon to hear. So Amon did not try to interrupt them. He stepped back and waited silently at a corner outside the courtyard.
What are they talking about? A while later, Golier’s voice appeared abruptly. He cried with excitement, “Nietzsche! Please don’t offend my god to my face! I have my faith, my beliefs, my principles! Please stop talking about the prophecy of the disaster to me!”